Q. Is radiofrequency (RF) radiation from cell phones, tablets, laptops and Wi-Fi routers safe for children?
A. No. Recent peer-reviewed studies have confirmed that exposure to RF radiation can increase the incidence of cancer, neurological disorders and oxidative stress that can lead to changes in DNA. Children are at higher risk from RF radiation because of their thinner skulls, their rapidly changing physiology and their vulnerable developing nervous systems. Children also have many more years to live and thus to develop health problems from longer lifetime exposures to RF radiation.
Please click here to see studies.
Q. Our IT consultant assures us that all of our equipment meets current FCC human exposure guidelines. Why should we be concerned?
A. The current FCC human exposure guidelines were developed by engineers back in the 1980s, and adopted by the FCC in 1996. The guidelines are based exclusively on thermal (or tissue heating) effects on a full-sized adult male mannequin. Non-thermal biological effects (e.g., neurological impacts, cancer or DNA changes) are not considered.
Since then, hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have shown serious biological changes at non-thermal levels well below those guidelines. Nevertheless, the wireless industry has lobbied hard to keep them in place. In short, FCC guidelines are completely inadequate to protect our children, and compliance with those guidelines should not be considered proof of safety.
Q. Are there safer technology solutions for schools?
A. Yes. Hardwired internet networks eliminate the risk of near-constant exposure to RF radiation while having the added benefit of being more reliable, less prone to hacking and up to one hundred times faster than wireless networks.
Hardwired networks are also relatively easy to install and cost-effective. Amortized over several years, these networks can cost far less to operate than wireless networks, and unlike wireless networks, are virtually "future-proof," ready for any new technologies that are developed.
All wireless systems depend on a hardwired infrastructure to operate. This means that many classrooms may already have wired internet capability; others may have an Ethernet cable in a nearby hallway. Many routers come with Ethernet connections, facilitating easy conversion.
Wired classroom configurations include:
• Running Ethernet cables from wall-mounted data ports through very low-profile ADA-compliant runways to multi-port switches on desks or group tables
• Connecting Ethernet cables from retractable ceiling-mounted or floor-based cables to table-mounted multi-port switches for distribution on group tables
• Hard-wiring along the perimeter of the classroom and positioning laptops or tablets on desks against the wall
Q. What policy solutions can schools adopt immediately to reduce radiation exposure for students and teachers?
A. Here are some steps any school can take right away:
• Immediately cease the purchase or installation of any new classroom wireless devices, new Wi-Fi networks including Wi-Fi 6, 5G antennas, cell phone boosters, etc.
• Adopt schedules and time limits for classroom internet access. This can be easily controlled with power switches for routers.
• Develop and enforce strict rules on cell phone use in school (many education experts strongly recommend prohibiting active cell phones in class), Learn more.
• Conduct or commission a full "peak exposure" assessment of current classroom, dormitory and other facility exposures.
• Obtain a liability insurance policy from vendors, telecom providers or third-party wireless vendors that does not exclude personal liability claims from effects of exposure to RF microwave radiation.
• Obtain written informed consent statements from students and parents/caregivers annually.
Q. For schools with a significant investment in wireless, are there steps that can be taken to reduce radiation exposure for students and teachers?
A. Yes. While hardwired systems are faster, safer and less costly over time, there are some interim mitigation steps that can be taken with wireless networks to reduce exposure. These include:
• Hardwiring teacher's stationery computer, smartboards, speakers, peripherals, cameras and any other stationary wireless devices.
• Installing on-demand wall switches so that Wi-Fi is used only for periods when needed, rather than constantly emitting a signal.
• Moving the router or access point away from direct proximity to students, such as mounting it above a classroom doorway. See diagram.
• Adjusting (lowering) the transmit power of routers and access points. In most cases, the power level is factory-set at maximum power, and can be reduced by up to 80% with little or no impact on performance. Learn more.
• Adjusting the beacon signal frequency (the number of times the router reaches out for incoming signals) will reduce exposure. Learn more.
Q. Do schools typically use stronger Wi-Fi than the average home?
A. Yes. Many schools use what are called “Enterprise” or “High Density” Wi-Fi networks, often utilizing mesh technology. These stronger systems typically create intense blanket exposure to achieve seamless connectivity and are used to support a large number of users in a dense user environment, resulting in higher levels of radiation than necessary.
Q. Why do Wi-Fi networks need to be so strong in schools?
A. They don't. Commercial enterprise networks are designed for worst-case scenarios and maximum Wi-Fi coverage throughout the area.
Out-of-the-box default settings are usually maximized for optimum performance, which can result in greater radiation output than necessary for a typical classroom. Schools have been able to significantly reduce Wi-Fi exposure without compromising connectivity by simply changing the default power settings. In many cases this has been shown to increase overall network performance due to less interference from neighboring systems. Learn more.
Q. What is a mesh network?
A. A mesh network is a group of devices that act as a single Wi-Fi network. All devices are connected to each other wirelessly, and so long as they are within range, they can communicate with one another without the need for a router. Unfortunately, this wireless deployment approach helps ensure blanket Wi-Fi coverage, virtually eliminating any spaces that are radiation-free.
Q. What are state governments and other organizations doing about wireless radiation?
A. The failure of the federal government to promulgate exposure standards based on recent, independent scientific evidence has triggered multiple lawsuits from public health organizations, and caused state governments to do their own investigations. The State of Maryland has tasked its Department of Health with investigating the issue. New Hampshire established a special commission to study the public health aspects of wireless radiation, and the final report strongly recommends reducing exposures, especially for children. Both states recommend wired networks for schools.
Legislation to investigate the health effects of exposure to wireless radiation is pending in several other states and Connecticut and California have officially recommended mitigating exposure to wireless radiation, especially for children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended reducing exposure to wireless radiation, saying “Current FCC standards do not account for the unique vulnerability and use patterns specific to pregnant women and children.” The "Best Practices" of the New York State United Teachers includes hardwired networks for schools. And in 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF radiation as a class 2B possible human carcinogen. This classification included the entire range of RFR from 30 KHz- 300 GHz, which includes all of the devices typically used in classrooms as well as 5G and Fifth Generation Wi-Fi.
Q. What about exposures from cell phones or other wireless devices in pockets or on laps?
A. Since cell phones are often carried by students directly against the body in shirt or pants pockets, and laptops and tablets are often used on student’s laps, every effort should be made to take steps to help reduce exposures and inform students of the potential harm.
There are very strong studies correlating RF radiation exposure with sperm reduction and motility rates among males, as well as correlations with breast cancer among females. All cell phones and laptops contain warnings not to hold the device against the body – advice often ignored by students and adults alike. Learn more.
Note about cell phones: Cell phones can emit high levels of RF radiation even when they're not on an active call. Ironically, a cell tower too close to a school can expose all students in the school to near-constant high-level exposures, while towers that are too far away can cause phones to emit more radiation as they struggle to connect. The safest solution is to prohibit the use of cell phones in school. Learn more.
Q. What about teachers and other school staff?
A. Some teachers who have been negatively impacted by exposure to wireless radiation have received accommodations under the ADA to eliminate wireless access points from their classrooms. Teachers unions across the country are now considering wireless radiation to be an occupational hazard, and are recommending wired technology for schools.
Recent lab studies at Yale University and elsewhere have shown that wireless radiation can interfere with normal brain development in fetuses. For that reason, women who are or may become pregnant are strongly urged to avoid unnecessary exposure to RF radiation.
See this Teacher Accommodation Letter from the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Q. Do high-density Wi-Fi networks create a blanket exposure, eliminating ” Wi-Fi Free” areas for students who may have or develop sensitivity to RF radiation?
A. Yes. Most wireless networks are designed to ensure that there are no areas where there is a weak or absent signal. As the evidence of harm from RF radiation continues to grow and the number of individuals experiencing physical symptoms of microwave sickness increases, schools are well-advised to take advance action to provide some areas that are "Wi-Fi Free," where students can work and study without exposure. Learn more about liability.
Q. Have some schools made changes to reduce exposure?
A. Yes. Some schools have taken steps to hardwire classrooms, providing the safest and fastest means of connectivity for students and staff. They have also instituted strict device use policies to reduce exposures from students' cell phones. Other schools have followed the Tech Safe School mitigation solutions with excellent success providing a 90% reduction in exposure in some cases (see below). Remarkably, the second largest school district in the US, The Los Angeles United School District adopted an RF exposure guideline 10,000x lower than the FCC's thermal guideline. (Note: These levels are not being monitored and health impacts are evident in the science at levels well below this LAUSD-adopted level. There are several workers' compensation cases in progress in the school district for teachers who have become ill.)
This is an excerpt from a detailed technical report prepared for the Linbrook School in Oakville, Ontario by Safe Living Technologies, Inc. To read a complete copy of the report, please click here.